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Where in Cheswick is Santa? App will help families know this year

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, 9:24 p.m.
Cheswick Volunteer Fire Co. firefighter Don Fritz demonstrates how the app 'Glympse' works at the fire hall on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. The department will use the app on Dec. 16 so that interested residents can see where Santa is when he makes his annual ride around the borough.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Cheswick Volunteer Fire Co. firefighter Don Fritz demonstrates how the app 'Glympse' works at the fire hall on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. The department will use the app on Dec. 16 so that interested residents can see where Santa is when he makes his annual ride around the borough.
Cheswick Volunteer Fire Co. firefighter Don Fritz poses in the station Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Fritz, who is in charge of IT for the department, came up with the idea to use a cell phone app so residents can keep track of Santa's location when he rides through the town on Dec. 16, 2017.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Cheswick Volunteer Fire Co. firefighter Don Fritz poses in the station Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Fritz, who is in charge of IT for the department, came up with the idea to use a cell phone app so residents can keep track of Santa's location when he rides through the town on Dec. 16, 2017.
A monitor at the Cheswick Volunteer Fire Co. shows how the app Glympse displays the route taken and the current location of the cell phone it's running on. The department will use Glympse on Dec. 16 so residents can tell where Santa has been, and where he is, on his annual ride around town.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A monitor at the Cheswick Volunteer Fire Co. shows how the app Glympse displays the route taken and the current location of the cell phone it's running on. The department will use Glympse on Dec. 16 so residents can tell where Santa has been, and where he is, on his annual ride around town.

For many years, Santa has taken a ride through Cheswick with the town's firefighters, hearing children's Christmas wishes.

And for just as many years, one of the biggest questions residents have has been: When will Santa be on my street?

It's a question they could never really answer.

But thanks to the wonders of technology — an app, a cellphone and a website — it won't need to be asked this Christmas season.

For this year's annual Santa ride Dec. 16, residents will be able to see exactly where Santa is at any given moment and where he has already been by clicking a link that will be posted to the department's Facebook page.

It will be thanks to firefighter Don Fritz, the department's “information technology guy,” and an app called Glympse that will be running on a cellphone in the truck carrying Santa around the borough that day.

“I think it's a fantastic idea,” fire Chief Rich Franks said. “I wish we could have thought of that before. Before, we didn't have a good IT guy.”

Because Santa rides in the back of the department's red Ford F-250 pickup, taking time to hear what children want for Christmas, it's been impossible to tell parents when he'd be on their street, Fritz said. They never know how many kids will come out, or how long they'll be talking to Santa.

So Fritz came up with the idea to use a tracking device. First he tried Google, but it wasn't precise and didn't update the location as frequently, he said.

That's when Fritz turned to the Glympse app, which allows someone to share their location temporarily with those they allow to see it.

Residents won't need to get the app — just follow a link that will be on the company's Facebook page .

“All they'll have to do is click using a smartphone or a computer, and it will pull up a map,” he said.

Glympse was released in 2008. It averages about 100,000 downloads monthly between the Apple (iOS) and Android app stores combined, said Denise Jack, vice president of marketing for the Seattle-based company.

The company has its free consumer app and works with businesses.

Using Glympse to follow Santa isn't necessarily how the app's creators envisioned it being used, Jack said. They saw it being used among family, friends and loved ones.

But, “I think it's a very creative way to be able to utilize location-sharing,” she said. “If we can lend a hand and help bring a community closer together, that's great.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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